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KEY BISCAYNE (CBS4) — South Florida marine super star Lolita the Killer Whale is feeling a bit under the weather.

 The star attraction at the Miami Seaquarium is “being treated for a tooth infection, a recurrence of a dental issue she had in 1994,” according to a statement from the popular marine theme park. “The whale stadium at Miami Seaquarium is temporarily closed. Although she is not performing shows, she is eating normally and being treated with antibiotics,” said the statement.

Lolita, the oldest killer whale in captivity, was born around 1966. She has spent most of her life at the Seaquarium since her capture in 1970. The 7,000 pound whale has lived in the 20-foot deep tank for 40 years, performing twice a day for South Florida tourists.

For years, activists have been trying to convince the Seaquarium to retire Lolita and release her back into the waters of the Pacific Northwest where she was originally captured, but her handlers and theme park owners say her life would be endangered if she were freed after so many years in captivity.

Comments (56)
  1. Dr Oz says:

    Too many sweet children stuck to Lolita’s teeth

    1. Vicki Sawyer says:

      you are a sick man

  2. sjiorca says:

    This is not good news for Lolita these can lead to whole body infections then death. It’s happened many times over. I really hope she lives to make it back home where she belongs!

    1. Megan says:

      Hm, wow. You obviously want her to die really bad then don’t you? SHe’s too old now to go back. She doesnt know how to hunt, her pod may or may not accept her. They need to just build her a bigger tank or sell her to one of the Sea Worlds either in San Antonio, Orlando, or San Diago becuase they have the facilities to care for her and give her more space, not to mention contact with other whales.

  3. Anita says:

    To have this whale in captivity is one bad thing. To not let her go to a sea pen is another one. How can people look upon and see this beautiful animal in this little dump of water? Mr. Hertz, you’re making me sick.

  4. Howard Garrett says:

    Her life is in danger where she is. The proposal for her retirement would be completely safe and would provide her the chance for a long healthy life and contact with her family.

    1. Debra Devorah Gottesman says:

      Absolutely in accord w/ Mr. Garrett

    2. Vicki Sawyer says:

      Why can’t they see how important it is to bring her home – she’s done more time than most killers in our country have done in prison!!

  5. Emms Daniels says:

    what a load of crap, how the hell can her life be in danger if she was released, they are only saying that coz they dont want to lose thier money maker 😦 FREE LOLITA

    1. Versteven Christel says:

      When you ask this question to any Marine park, they only answer they’ll give you is, ‘look at what happend with Keiko’. I don’t know which program they had in those years, but it seems there’s a new program out which helps Killer whales or any other marine mammal to adjust to wild again. It’ll take some time, but eventually it should work. With Lolita they know where her pod is, so it shouldn’t be so hard. From what i read, Killer whales will always recognize their young. Or other relatives. The Marine parks just look for excuses. And to people who don’t have any idea of what really is going on behind the scenes, it’s not a good thing. They don’t like the people whom are trying to get marine mammals released. They don’t understand it. These matters should be tought in schools. How cruel captivity really is.

    2. Megan says:

      She WILL die just like Keiko.It’s people like you who got that poor whale killed over what? Ignorance. Stupidity. Get over your silly, childhood dreams.

    3. Naomi Anderson says:

      They cannot release Lolita back to the sea. Yes it is wishful thinking but it cannot be done, instead we will be sending her to her death, The best option is to send her to a facility where they have a larger pool for her, and other whales for her to interact with. And to a facility where they have the materials needed to care for her properly.
      The other reason whey they cannot release her is because as soon as an animal has human care, they can never be released becasue they will forever see humans as a way to get food.

  6. Rae Benson says:

    Who do NONE of the journalists reporting NEVER mention a seapen but are ALWAYS sure to put in the Hertz opinion that she will die if freed.
    NOONE is trying to free her …only retire her to a seapen.

    Journalists mis-represent ….ONCE AGAIN!!!!

  7. Angie says:

    So sad to think this pooor animal has been reduced to 20 ft deep tank for that long!!! Really despicable – humans!

  8. awispr says:

    You’re not listening Mr. Hertz! Lolita deserves a peaceful retirement, free from her prison cell, disguised as a fish bowl. She needs to be in a sea pen. Away from the crowds, with a healthy diet, room to swim in a straight line, and dive deeper than she is long. She has earned a retirement with dignity. Consider the ramifications if she were to perish in her lonely, ugly, depressing tank…If you don’t act now you will have the blood of a aged, and lonely intelligent animal on your hands. You do have a heart, don’t you Mr. Hertz?

    1. Vicki Sawyer says:

      Mr Hertz does not have a heart – only a money pit.

      1. Bridget says:


  9. Andrea Knappen Neault says:

    Since her capture in 1970….how sad that she may die after all. Close the show permanently.

  10. Tia Lurie says:

    This statement is highly unlikely to be the truth since it comes from the sane people that hid the death of Hollywood from public eyes for over a month with statements alleging that the dolphin had been moved to Dolphin Harbor. IF Lolita is alive then she needs to be released to her seapen retirement plan as soon as she’s able to be transfered. Infections don’t take long to clear up provided they’re correctly maintained in a safe and healthy environment. It’s doubtable that Lolita is being kept in clean conditions given the fact that she’s been kept in complety disgusting and inadequate ones since 1970. Its time to do the right thing and let her go Mr Hertz!

  11. Rae Benson says:

    They need to prove she’s still alive with an “eyes-on verificiation” from a “credible” source. I don’t believe a word from Miami Seaquarium without proof. Orcas are rarely sick this long (except right before death) and she has never been removed from the show for this long …for 40 years!! Something is wrong and Miami Seaquarium needs to cough up the truth …for once

  12. Anita Murray Cook says:

    Okay Miami Seaquarium, you say you can not set Lolita free because she has been in captivity much too long. There you said it with your own mouth! She has been in captivity too long, now do not forget that you said those words and I will not either. In fact, you do know that she has a seapen already for her in her native water’s of Washington and close to her family do you not? And do you not know that she has care giver’s to feed her just like and better than you do, with out performing. And do you not know that she will be taken care of there for as long as she lives and with the freedom to swim to depth’s she does not even know exist right now but would learn quickly? Yes, you do know this. The reason you keep her now more than anything is because she is a “star” for sure now with all the publicity she is getting, then so are you! Shame on you Mr. Hertz. You do not care about this Orca, not at all or else you would do the “right” thing and retire her to her seapen. You are a sorry excuse for a human being and you will have to answer for your crime against nature one day!

  13. Ian Brash says:

    I’ve heard sociopaths sleep real well at night ….how do you sleep Mr. Hertz?

  14. sam says:

    41 YEARS in prison – what was the crime again? Oh right greedy people and the ignorant ones that continue to perpetuate this industry.

  15. JV says:

    Last week on CBS regarding orca teeth, and more.

  16. Debbie says:

    Have a heart. Let this beautiful creature live the rest of her life in relative happiness. She has lined your pockets for long enough. Let he go.

  17. Mikey Shanley says:

    20 foot deep tank. Think about that. That isn’t particularly deep for the average human who doesn’t depend on water as a habitat to actively swim in; let alone an orca whale who’s life is in water and is around three times our length. Pathetic.

    Also, it’s not like her leaving Miami would mean that she is released in to the wild for better or worse. There is a complete business plan drawn up for her that includes a sea-pen. Furthermore, don’t tell me that we already tried this once back in the Free Willy days and it didn’t work. The facts are different and the conditions are different. when has science and/or anyone ever tried something once, had it not necessarily pan out the way they wanted and simply use that as definitive evidence that no whale can be taken from captivity and back into the wild? With all the awareness about whales and dolphins that are erupting into the media (The Cove, Whale Wars, Sea World Orca attacks and kills a trainer), I think its about time we stop believing that we shouldn’t experiment with this idea.

    Look at how many people are against that sea prison. Shame on Hertz for continuing to ignore what is right.

    1. Megan says:

      I understand your concern, Mikey. I really really do. Being in that small tank is stressful and obviously horrible. I just dont think setting her free is the right answer. I hope maybe they could sell her to Sea World, because they have the means to take care of whales properly with bigger tanks and treatments. And she could be with the other whales, that’s the important thing to me.

  18. Linda says:

    Miami Seaquarium is a PIMP and every visitor that goes to watch these horrific shows are the JOHNS – selfishly getting a kick at another creature’s pain.

    Let Lolita go home to her family already! She still calls out for them when the crowds are gone and she floats to the bottom and cries in boredom. LEARN the truth of what you are paying for, watch poor Lolita’s story about how her family members were murdered, her being captured as a baby and now force to do shows in 31 years of isolation, in a space that for us would be relative to the size of a bathtub. I would never wish that on any child, let alone a beautiful and magnificent sea creature.

    Don’t go to Maimi Seaquarium!

  19. Cindy says:

    I hate marine parks and hope no one supports them for keeping this beautiful animal in captivity for so many years only to ‘perform’ for money. How utterly disgusting.
    All so they can make a buck. WAKE UP PEOPLE. STOP GOING TO THESE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Sandy says:

    Taking something that doesn’t belong to you doesn’t make it yours. It makes you a thief. Lolita belongs to the sea. Give her back Miami Seaquarium.

  21. Gwen says:

    She belongs in a seapen, in her natural waters. You, Arthur Hertz, have no right to keep a sentient being from her true home. She does not belong to you, nor does she care for you or her trainers. What she needs is a large, open space in the ocean, with her biological family passing by.
    Her mother is still alive. There is still a chance to reunite them. Please.

  22. Tucker says:



  23. Marianne Lawless Kocher says:

    Lolita has done her time. She’s had no time off for good behavior. Now’s she’s ailing. She has a home to go to….she’s got people lining up to take care of her.
    Think of something besides fattening your wallet. Set Lolita Free.
    It’s been 40 years too long.

  24. GAIN AND AGEIN says:

    Let her go, and put CARMEN BARAHONA, an her daaughter IN HER 20 foot pen…whom will be able to tell the difference.


    Maybe Rick Scorr could entertain them with his DONUT HOLES….

  25. awispr says:

    I live 3000 miles away in California. But if I were there, I would find a way to get into the stadium, and chain myself to the bleachers! Who’s down there to do this?? Who’s gonna take the risk of arrest and get in there?

  26. awispr says:

    I want immediate evidence that Lolita is alive!! It’s time to go guerilla and get in there!!

  27. Stephen says:

    if they cant release her then why not just build her a bigger tank, she deserves it after living in that tiny pook that is illegal.

  28. Lisa says:

    Mr. Hertz: Lolita belongs to the sea. Please release her, while there is still time, to the sea pen carefully planned by orca experts and allow her to enjoy the rest of her life back in her beautiful Pacific Northwest ocean home. This could be your legacy, Mr. Hertz: your gratitude to Lolita for decades of service to you. Thank you.

  29. Candace Boles says:

    Lolita deserves to be retired, even if she can’t make it laone she can survive in a seapen and she will have plenty of care, Enough is enough, Its time for her to go home. Her family is still there and she still speaks and understands the dialect. Her tank is Illegal its clearly Way too small!!

    The time has come , Time for Toki to experience deep cold water, the sounds of the ocean and her family. diving deep and having so much room, and being able to ecolocate freely without the pain of the sounds bouncing back. Its cruel she can’t use her natural ability!

    When it comes down to the Truth, Arthur and Andrew so NOT care for Toki, because of the Truly did, they would love her enough to let her spend the rest of her days at Home! Like they would want!

    People need to stop and think, what if aliens came and took you from earth and used you as entertainment and in comparrison its like a prison cell so u live in a cell, Sensory deprivated because toki is too and to top it off they come in and play your familys voices yet you can do nothing..This is what its like for her, shes in some strange world in a prison cell doing tricks for food for 40 years!!
    Do You want to be kidnapped??????

    Think about it! Make a Change! FREE TOKI!!!!

    1. Cynthia says:

      Well spoken Candace… Arthur Hertz Loves the MONEY…. not Lolita. put pressure on APHIS to enforce the LAW!!! OrCa Network has all the info we need to do this….. it is the way to get her set free. More of us need to put up a fight in the right place, where it can not only have an impact, but results.!!

  30. sue fendall says:

    Mr Hertz, she is nearing the end of her time as a ‘ cash cow’ for you. DO the right thing. Let her go to a seapen now.
    You have made your millions off her , it is time to let her feel the ocean waves, to swim in a straight line, to do what she was put on this earth for. Not to make you money.

  31. T Williams says:

    Just tie it to a door handle and slam it shut. That’s what my dad would do when we had that problem! Don’t they have doors in Miami?

  32. arden Green says:

    If anyone wants to get a whole picture of thls issue, feel free to go online to : The ORCA PROJECT. If you choose, you may rent or buy the DVD: Lolita, Slave to Entertainment. Do some research. The more you read, the more you learn.

  33. Carole May says:

    If it’s just a tooth infection, then tell us, Mr. Hertz, why did a helicopter land at SQ this afternoon with 4 people who got out? We all know that a tooth infection can kill, so before that happens, get her healthy and let her retire. If she is going to die at least let her have the dignity of dying in her home waters, instead of a concrete tank. We know that L pod was recently in CA, and in all probability, they could be headed back to WA. Let her retire to the seapen so that possibly her mother could see her again. If you don’t and she dies, it will be on your conscience, and I wouldn’t want that kind of karma on my head. Do the right thing!

  34. Laney says:

    T Williams…you are a moron….I suppose if you had a kid who had an infected tooth (INFECTED being the key word here) you wouldn’t hesitate to tie the tooth to a door and slam it shut?
    I guess Mr. Hertz is sooo hurting for money…..get with the program Hertz…most of us would much rather see nature where and how it’s supposed to be and be poor than to do what you are doing and be rich. Karma will turn around very soon and bite you in the butt!

  35. Larry says:

    You people are all idiots. Why are you wasting so much effort on one killer whale when in the wild: whales, dolphins, and porpoises are in real trouble.
    Not that you people are going to listen anyway, but for the record:
    The Western Pacific Grey Whale (Korean Gray) is down to 100 animals left, and the last of their habitat is being threaten by oil drilling.
    The Maui Dolphin in New Zealand is down to 111 animals left due to gillnets, and facing extinction.
    Off Baja, the Gulf of California Porpoise “The Vaquita” is down to less than 200 animals left, and is getting decimated by gillnets too.
    The Chinese River Dolphin “The Baiji” just went extinct. The Chinese are talking the last of the Finless Porpoises into captivity to save them.
    The money you want to waste on Lolita would be better spent to help the animals in the wild.

    1. Sherri O says:

      I am very disturbed Larry at the language and tone you take with your post. If you were more articulate I would consider your “opinion”. To be honest, I was fairly surprised you knew the facts concerning that the Korean Gray whale numbers are declining when you use the word “idiots” in your post and the general anger and disrespect it has. I think there are better ways to express oneself to be taken seriously. Perhaps you simply do not know better, or perhaps the number of people that have posted their love and concern for this animal triggered some deep subconscious thought in you as to how much love you have received in your life… and maybe that it wasn’t enough.

    2. Vicki Sawyer says:

      Everyone in this world has a cause, or should have a cause. Being a part of Lolita’s cause is being a part of ending the suffering of animals taken from their homes, and their families and sold into what truly should be considered “slavery”. I’m aware of the animals going extinct, not just in the seas, but all over our world. You cannot put us down for doing are part in stopping the cruelty that humans inflict on one of our animal friends.

  36. Michelle says:

    Ok Larry..I guess YOU have a lot of checks to be writing then. You do what you wish with your money and we will do what we want with ours 🙂

  37. Laura in LA says:

    If she lived only 5 years in the ocean like Keiko (the Free Willy whale) it would be the best 5 years of her life. Unlike many captive whales it is known where Lolita was captured from and she can be returned to her pod. Anyone who doesn’t agree should watch the documentary “Lolita a Slave to Entertainment” for a change of mind. She has paid her dues. She deserves to be free.

    1. Annie says:

      Keiko was 2-3 years old when he was captured, Lolita was 6-7 years old so she learned more than Keiko and she has a bigger shot in rehabilitation than Keiko. and even if she died in the ocean, atleast she didn’t die in that disgusting fishbowl + they know where her family usually is. FREE LOLITA!!!!

  38. Vince says:

    She better dies on this toothache quickly.

    The’ll never let her free and she is confind to a small prison for far too long serving mans entertainment.
    What a sick story an a blamage for human intelligence.
    May your suffering end soon Lolita XXX

  39. Vince says:

    If I was an american, or at least a wealthy european I would go there and fix this, problem…one way or another. This is something SeaShepard could handle isn’t it? I mean all the friendly and polite possibilities have been tried without any effect..?

  40. Amy says:

    they should not be kept in captivity seperated from its family… 😦

  41. Ester says:

    Lies,Lies,Lies..that is all what is being told by seaworld aka loro parque aka dolphinarium harderwijk miami seaquarium,one stinking dirty buisness !!

    Even in Europe we heard about Lolita and all I have to say is this.
    This is animal abuse and those people should end up in court & a small cell.
    People who go to these shows,live a shallow life,with no respect for skills or life itselves.
    Life is wasted on them.

    1. vrobbesom says:

      couldn’t agree more..

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